[coreboot] What are the best motherboards/systems out there foropen-source software?

Tiago Marques tiagomnm at gmail.com
Mon Jun 23 14:56:52 CEST 2008

I've seen my fair share of open-source adoption, or not. As such,
seeing the recent developments with open-source drivers in the Intel
camp, I can say they are pretty happy with the result, everyone is.

Has it already been attempted to contact chipset manufacturers to
release information without NDA, much like what AMD has already done
with graphics cards?
I say this because, if they realize that by allowing open-source
replacements for the BIOS would allow for new industry players to have
a lower cost of entry to the motherboard manufacturing. This, I see,
would drive chipset sales up, which is good for them IMHO. Emerging
markets like Chine, which will start doing it anyway, would benefit,
like the manufacturer would also.
This is something I think Coreboot should be attempting to "lobby", so
NDAs could become a thing of the past.

Anyone has any idea of how much are the costs for using Pheonix or AMI's BIOS?

Best regards,
                                Tiago Marques

On 6/20/08, Ken.Fuchs at bench.com <Ken.Fuchs at bench.com> wrote:
> David Christensen wrote:
>  > coreboot:
>  >
>  > I am researching parts to build a new open-source desktop
>  > system, and came across coreboot tonight.
>  >
>  > I have heard of open-source projects to implement x86 BIOS,
>  > but have always wondered how they fared given the fact
>  > that most motherboard vendors and chip vendors consider
>  > their products confidential intellectual property and won't
>  > provide technical documentation necessary for software
>  > development without an contract (NDA, etc.).
> Just to be clear, NDA is short for Non-Disclosure Agreement.
>  There is no standard NDA; even the same company will have
>  a different NDA for a different purpose.  An NDA will often
>  list exactly what will be shared and protected, but often
>  companies will want this list to be very general so that
>  almost anything shared that was not previously shared by
>  legal means will be protected by the terms of the NDA.
>  Some companies will provide enough information about their
>  boards, processors, chipsets, ancillary chips and embedded
>  controllers with or without an NDA.  With an NDA in place,
>  they will often want to review code based on an open source
>  project (i.e. coreboot), before allowing it to be publicly
>  released.  There may be a few companies that are resistant
>  to any open source BIOS and may not agree to an NDA for
>  that purpose, but I know of no such case yet.  Companies
>  will tend to do what is best for their bottom line; we just
>  need to convince them that an Open BIOS/firmware like
>  coreboot will help them improve their bottom line.
>  When a company is resistant to releasing technical information
>  even with an NDA or the prospect of getting approval to release
>  source created via NDA protected information is doubtful, there
>  is the option of reverse engineering the technical information
>  via JTAG debuggers, logical analyzers and similar tools.
>  Of course this is only an option for those that do not sign
>  any relevant NDA.  Also, care must be taken to ensure that the
>  reverse engineering activities do not violate any applicable
>  laws.
>  > Are there any modern x86 motherboards and/or systems
>  > currently available for which technical documents are
>  > available for the motherboard and everything on it?
> I'm not aware of any x86 main boards with complete technical
>  information that are available without signing an NDA.  Some
>  that may come close would be on the coreboot main board list,
>  but some of these may have been developed under NDA, which
>  means the only public technical information available may be
>  the approved & released chipset-specific, coreboot source code
>  itself:
>  http://www.coreboot​.org/Supported_Motherboards
>  Perh​aps, someone else is aware of such a board with complete
>  publicly available technical information, including full
>  schematics and BOM?
>  > Are matters better or worse for alternate architectures?
> The situation for non-x86 processors is much better.  U-Boot
>  seems to support almost any non-x86 based board that exists.
>  If a board is not supported, its architecture often is supported
>  and thus a port U-Boot to it is usually quite easy to do.
>  In my opinion, U-Boot's non-x86 firmware market share is so high
>  that embedded board designers ignore U-Boot at the own peril.
>  This is especially true of architectures that MS Windows CE does
>  _not_ support.  (CE supports only x86, MIPS, ARM and SuperH where
>  ARM is the only one that is really significant; CE's bootloader
>  Eboot is really a joke compared to the power of U-Boot in any
>  case.)
>  http://www.denx.de/wi​ki/UBoot
>  Sincerely,
>  Ken Fuchs
>  --
>  coreboot mailing list
>  coreboot at coreboot.org
>  http:​//www.coreboot.org/mailman/list​info/coreboot

More information about the coreboot mailing list